This YouTube video presents a turning point in my life. When I went before my
dissertation committee, I was basically an agnostic who wanted to believe that
God is real. The evidence and attitudes I had experienced in my PhD program had
stripped me of any confidence in God’s existence. Everything, and I mean
everything, could be and was explained with no reference to God, including
god-consciousness itself. Then came the day that my dissertation process was
stopped by certain committee members who inadvertently discovered that I lacked
confidence in Darwinian evolution as a sufficient explanation for the origin and
diversity of life. I was forced to profess belief in Darwinism, without any
consideration of opposing empirical or theoretical evidence, in order to proceed
with my degree plan. It did not matter that my particular dissertation, or even
my chosen field, had little to do with Darwin’s theory.
I never remember the word "religion" being mentioned in
that encounter, but the message was loud and clear. Suddenly it made sense why I
had never heard any arguments to balance the atheistic materials in my course
work. Suddenly it made sense why the attitudes and beliefs around me were so
consistently atheistic. It made sense why peer-reviewed journals contained so
little confession of the obvious shortfalls in evolutionary theory. I had
thought it was because the academics were more learned, deeper thinkers,
pursuers of truth at all costs, uninhibited by the superstitions and traditions
of men. Silly me! Just the opposite was unfolding right before my eyes. Opposing
evidence was selectively and systematically being filtered out. Peer review
doesn’t work if dissenters cannot become peers. If some work so hard to suppress
the evidence, then the evidence must be stronger than I thought.
There was one principle I had learned about culture,
through my international travels, even before pursuing my PhD in sociology. That
was that the most powerful ideas of a culture are never voiced. They are passed
on and reinforced by the way things are done, and depend as much on what is not
said as upon what is said. If they were voiced, they could be questioned. If
they could be questioned, then they could be rejected. But if dissention is
never heard, then change never happens. It is a uniting and sustaining force of
any culture; and academia is a culture.
Don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for scholarly
work and academe. The far majority of scientists function productively with no
sinister intent in the taboo within which they live, that no evidence can ever
be interpreted as supporting a higher being, no matter how outlandish the
alternative explanations may be. If pressed on the issue, most will say, if they
are willing to discuss the issue at all, that religion must be kept out of
science; not realizing that the position that God never has, would, or could
intervene in the universe IS a religious position. They consider themselves to
be open-minded, all the while wearing blinders.
It reminds me of when I was dating the woman who later
became my wife. She candidly remarked once that certain subjects were taboo at
my families’ dinner table. I had never thought about it. I simply obeyed the
rules unconsciously. When I pointed out the same about her family, she flatly
denied it.. until I gave her examples.
For some it is more serious. When confronted with the idea
that Darwinism deserves critique, some I have encountered react with such
irrational forcefulness that it could be compared to standing on their air hose.
That critique is interpreted as threat tells me that critique is not only valid
but needed. It tells me there are deeper reasons than logic for avoiding
consideration. It tells me that for them protection is more important than
truth. It suggests that there is a fear that God just might really be there.